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On life and leadership: The Decision Window

Last month I introduced a concept called Invisible Decisions. This month I’m sharing a new tool I’m developing: The Decision Window.

For the last decade, my mission has been helping people make better decisions. Initially, I focused on teaching techniques for improved decision-making. Recently, I realized that the key is enabling people to make more, bigger decisions. I think most people don’t spend enough time making big decisions.

Seeing more clearly

The Decision Window can help you raise your level of consciousness about your big choices, be more courageous in your decision-making, and more committed to your chosen path.

Figure 1: The Decision Window on first glance

Leaders tend to have a to-do list but not a to-decide list. When I ask leaders, “what are the 3 biggest decisions you need to make in the next month?”, they often look at me blankly.

And yet, I think we’d all agree that ‘making the big decisions’ is a fundamental part of a leader’s job description. The Decision Window helps you focus more energy on these big decisions.

Changing your perspective

Remember the blue dress / gold dress viral image? It shows us there are different ways of seeing the world. But we tend to get locked into our own world view. We see the world through our own, sometimes narrow, window.

We also tend to get mired in the detail and neglect the bigger picture. The Decision Window aims to help you open your eyes and experience your world from different perspectives.

Expanding your world view

Here’s how I bring this to life for leaders.

Figure 2: The Decision Window – opened up

Your current window on the world is represented by the inner square.

Your job is to open up and look more widely.

  1. First, look up to see the big picture. What’s the biggest possible decision I could make? And what’s the smallest decision I could truly commit to?

  2. Then look forwards towards your future goals, and ask, what’s the biggest thing holding us back from getting there? What’s the biggest problem we need to deal with first?

  3. Then look under the surface. What are the root causes of the issues you’re concerned about at the moment?

  4. Finally, look in reverse to focus not on “what is in view” – but what’s NOT in view. What trade-offs are you making? What’s the opportunity cost of your current strategy?

As a result of these four expanded views, you can put a new, bigger decision in the middle of your world view.

Testing this method might reveal surprising opportunities. What seemed vital might be overshadowed by a new decision.

And once you’ve identified the big decision, you can get your team aligned, focused, energised on what really matters most.

Opening the window is like opening your mind.

The Decision Window: A Case Study

The CEO of Company X wanted to align the Leadership Team around a 3-year strategy to double market share. We asked each area of the business to draft a summary which showed the market trends, opportunities and key transformations needed in their area. This generated a long list of well-known issues.

We put these in the middle of the table, to represent the current window on the world.

Then we used The Decision Window to consider the 4 expanded views one at a time, together as a team. This collective approach creates more dialogue, and not as much need for debate. It’s a process of collective enquiry.

When we then asked the final question, “what’s the biggest decision we need to make?” it turned out that it was about what to stop doing. One specific product line needed to be shut down completely.

It was fascinating to see the energy shift in the room when we landed on ‘the big decision’. This had obviously been an issue floating around edges of their vision for a while. Now it was in the middle of the conversation. The team was 100% aligned, deeply focused, and positively energised about the opportunities that could be created if they tackled this big decision first.

Opening up your Decision Window can open up your possibilities and unlock your collective energy.


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